A Marine veteran hailed as a hero for saving a woman who nearly jumped to hear death after Sunday's Oakland Raiders game says he just wants the woman to know that "people care."
Donnie Navidad, 61, of Stockton, has won praise for trying to catch a woman who lept from the third level of the o.Co Coliseum at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday. But the die-hard Raiders' fan is downplaying his actions, even discounting the major purple bruising on his left arm when he used his body to break her fall.
"Had I not done anything, that would have been etched in my mind until I died," Navidad told NBC Bay Area on Monday. "I happened just to be there. When she was falling, I held my arms out so she could land. I was going to lock her in so we could fall together."
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Her fall came just after the Tennessee Titans beat the Oakland Raiders 23-19. She was in section 301, an area that is closed off to the public, according to Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. J.D. Nelson, who credits Navidad for urging the woman not to jump and breaking her fall from 50 feet above.
"He put his arms out and tried to catch her, he didn't even think about it. He didn't want her to fall," Nelson said. "There's no question, no question," that he saved her life.
Hall of Fame Raider Willie Brown and other players and team staffers visited Navidad Monday to say thank you. They gave him Raiders memorabilia and Sunday’s game ball.
"I'm a hero to them, but to me, I just reacted the way I did," Navidad said.
The woman was taken to Highland Hospital and was “in pretty bad shape,” Nelson said. As of Monday morning, she was in critical condition.
There have been other falls, some fatal, from Bay Area stadiums in the recent past.
In September, Kevin Hayes, a 32-year-old man fell to his death after he had been drinking from a pedestrian overpass outside Candlestick Park where the 49ers play. And in December 2012, a teenager was seriously injured when he fell from the third level at o.Co Coliseum, where the Oakland Raiders were hosting the Denver Broncos.
For now, Navidad wants the woman to know there are those out there who can help her with whatever demons she may be facing.
"I want her to know that people care and tell her, 'No matter what you did, what was running through your mind,' people care," Navidad said.